The Toronto Raptors will shoot for their fourth straight victory and a winning homestand Saturday night when they face the Atlanta Hawks.
Atlanta defeated the Indiana Pacers 113-111 on Friday night at Indianapolis on a tip-in by John Collins in the final second of the game.
The Raptors are 3-2 on their season-high, six-game homestand after defeating the Charlotte Hornets 124-114 Thursday to sweep a two-game set. Toronto has won three straight for the first time this season.
“We’ve just got to keep going,” said Toronto’s Scottie Barnes, who had 21 points, seven rebounds and nine assists on Thursday. “Don’t settle for less. Take it one game at a time right now. Stay hungry. That’s what the team mindset is right now, stay hungry.”
Pascal Siakam scored 35 points on 11-for-13 shooting from the field for the Raptors on Thursday. Toronto shot 51.8 percent (43-for-83) from the field.
“There’s a lot of film-watching and just trying to see how I can exploit the defense,” Siakam said. “I think most of the time, for me, I always wanted to be quicker and just finish. But sometimes, it’s taking what the defense is giving you and being more calm.”
Gary Trent Jr. scored 19 points and O.G. Anunoby had 15 points and four steals on Thursday. Anunoby leads the NBA in steals with 2.26 per game.
“We’re trying to make some progress,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “There’s a good sign with shots going in. There’s a good sign with the high number of assists. There’s a little bit more life off the bench. There are some good signs for sure.”
The Toronto reserves scored 23 points on Thursday, led by Precious Achiuwa, who had 10 points and a career-best five steals.
“I really liked how Precious took the ball to the basket,” Nurse said. “I liked his aggressiveness.”
The Raptors had 30 assists on Thursday after having 32 assists on Tuesday vs. the Hornets.
“We could have had 40 off of good plays that we didn’t convert,” Nurse said Wednesday, “but it was good. We’re creating opportunities to draw defenders and pass the ball. Much better.”
The Raptors and Hawks have split their first two meetings this season.
The Hawks’ victory on Friday was just their fourth in the past 11 games. Trae Young had 26 points and 11 assists for Atlanta. De’Andre Hunter added 25 points, and Onyeka Okongwu had 18 points and a career-best 20 rebounds.
“We needed this game bad after our last game (a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday),” Okongwu said. “The last game I wasn’t being aggressive. I got called out by people, family, friends, coaches. So this game I wanted to make an effort to be aggressive on both ends of the floor.”
The Hawks feel they are capable of being better than their 20-22 record.
“Better play, more consistent play, we need to improve our defense, I mean, really, all aspects of the game,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said when assessing his team’s first half of the season. “Certainly, I think it starts on the defensive end of the floor, doing a better job of controlling the ball and rebounding the basketball, in hopes that that will help initiate and establish an offensive tempo that we feel we can play at. But, more commitment in that area and being more consistent with that.”
–Field Level Media